I love the phrase, “grow in grace.”
However, I wonder how many times we use the phrase inappropriately or without fully understanding what it means. What is it to grow in grace?
Peter admonishes us in II Peter 3:18, “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.”
Growing in grace is not passive; it is the opposite.
It is aggressive action to make forward progress in Christ-likeness. Too many are just satisfied not to go backwards - to hold where they are -because we know that, inherently, growing in grace means we must apply ourselves, deny ourselves, and push ourselves toward the Lord. Now let us be clear at the beginning: we are not the source of grace for ourselves, nor would we have the slightest interest in growing in grace, were it not for the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. It is the Spirit of Christ that both illuminates us and encourages us to reach for the higher way after salvation.
When we are first saved, we are in Christ, but we are not much like Christ.
A process of growth begins, and we take steps of obedience that allow the Spirit of God to reveal new and greater truth and lead us to the next change. In our journey to be conformed to the “mind of Christ,” it is our surrender to the Spirit-revealed truth that allows Him to continue to reveal higher and greater truth. But during that journey, the world, our flesh, and the devil entice us to step off the road that leads higher and get back on the road of bondage in this world. To grow in grace requires us to mortify our flesh; it requires us to deny our natural sinful appetites and to reach for the better way that the Spirit of God is revealing.
In his wonderful devotional book My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers says this: “An elevated mood can only come out of an elevated habit of personal character. If in the externals of your life you live up to the highest you know, God will continually say — ‘Friend, go up higher.’” We grow in grace by living in the presence of God, by denying ourselves the ways and habits of the old man, and by obeying what we know the Lord has revealed to us. He then can reveal to us something higher, and on we grow!
Moment-by-moment growth is by the power and direction of the Spirit, helping us to choose the higher way. Leading us to Higher Ground.
I’m pressing on the upward way,
New heights I’m gaining every day;
Still praying as I’m onward bound,
“Lord, plant my feet on higher ground."
Lord, lift me up and let me stand,
By faith, on Heaven’s tableland,
A higher plane than I have found;
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.